IV. Brunswick — the Town of Tyll Eulenspiegel.
Dem lustigen Gesellen
dort errichtet wo er die
Eulen und Meerkatzen buk
Erdacht und gemacht von
(To the jolly chap
erected in the place where he
baked the owls and the long-tailed monkeys
Thought out and wrought out by
Americans know of this medieval hero chiefly through the great tone-poem by Richard Strauss, and by his lesser descendants, such as Max und Moritz, and Peck's Bad Boy. But his name is a mighty one in Germany, and may almost take rank with graver heroes such as Tannhäuser and the Wandering Jew. For he was the first Teutonic humorist, a sort of Socrates turned practical joker, who always affected naivete and always turned the laugh upon the other fellow. „To few mortals,“ wrote Carlyle, „has it been granted to earn such a place in universal history.“
Tyll was born at the beginning of the fourteenth century in the province of Brunswick (Braunschweig), and played many of his most famous pranks near the spot where he now sits, more brazen than ever, laughing at the droll little creatures he once baked, to the scandal of the good baker, his master, in the old shop close at hand. Those liveliest of German children, the young Brunswickers, are never tired of poking their fingers into the monkeys' mouths and squirting the water at one another. Tyll is the last to say them nay, and always seems vengeful whenever the policeman comes to spoil sport. The monkeys are noticeably more popular than the owls, and there is something almost pathetic in their bright little skulls, from which the patina has already been rubbed by the caressing hands of countless children.
Perhaps the chief reason why the Brunswickers are the only Germans who have thus honored Tyll is that they feel an affinity for him. At any rate, they impressed me as having a greater love of practical fun and a more genuine Low-Saxon humor than any other Germans of my acquaintance. Nowhere else have I been so often accosted on the streets, and by such a variety of people. They seem to be fairly bubbling with mischief. They have not the malicious, cutting satire of Berlin, nor the polished wit of Dresden; not the uncouth pleasantry of Silesia, nor the effervescence of the Rhine, nor the mellow, hearty, kindly humor of Bavaria. Brunswick is like a mild but continuous hazing party. The people are amazingly quick with their tongues. You turn a corner in a long mackintosh, and are instantly hailed by a group of burghers with, „Well, my Mantle-Mister!“ You pass a group of middle-class girls on a bridge.
„Too tall for me!“ cries one.
„Down at the heel, oh, shockingly!“ remarks another.
„Think he understands?“
„Jawohl. See how fast he runs away!“
In these free-and-easy manners it is not difficult to trace the Brunswicker's inherent democracy.
His humor, like Tyll's, inclines toward terseness and point. He is fond of such epigrams as the following:
„Every beginning is hard,“ said the young thief. Then he stole an anvil.
„I punish my wife only with good words,“ said Lehmann. Then he threw the hymn-book at her head.
They are fond of making so-called „neighbor- rhymes,“ in which the peculiarities of each householder in a given street are tersely hit off with a winning combination of sharpness and shrewd geniality which neatly characterizes the people of Brunswick (Braunschweig).
Naturally these affinities of the medieval Tyll are deeply romantic and superstitious folk. And they come honestly by the quality; for the oldest Teutonic myths, like that of Walpurgis Night, had their origin in the region north of the Harz. And it is a welcome thought that our Anglo-Saxon appetite for the romantic and the picturesque may be due in part to inherited remnants of exactly such ancient beliefs as are still alive in the province and the city of Brunswick (Braunschweig).
The people believe to-day in vampires. They shut the door after the outgoing coffin so that the dead may not return and work mischief. Still they place a coin in the dead hand to pay for the outward journey,— that coin of Charon which seems to run through all history— and intone this formula:
Ik gewe dik dat dinige,
Blif mik von den minigen.
( I give thee what is thine;
Oh, spare thou what is mine.)
There are countless tales current in Brunswick (Braunschweig), of wailing women with eyes of fire, the harbingers of death; of the World Dog, who appears in clanking chains every seven years; of will-o'-the-wisps, who hover over burning gold. It is a matter of common knowledge that he who moves a boundary-stone must wander about headless after death. Was it not recently that a Brunswicker met his former pastor at midnight in a forest? The reverend gentleman carried his head under one arm, but with the other he gave his late parishioner such a box on the ear that he never ventured out again after dark.
Until the middle of the nineteenth century there were „Fire-riders“ in Brunswick, whose function it was to mount a horse at the outbreak of fire, and with a saucer of salt in hand gallop thrice around the flames, chanting this magic formula:
Feuer, du heisse Flamm',
Dir gebeut Jesus Christ, der wahre Mann,
Das du sollst stille steh'n
Und nicht weiter geh'n.
Im Namen des Vaters, etc.
(Fire, you fervid flame,
Christ Jesus, that true Man, demands this same:
That you stand still yonder
And no further wander.
In the Name of the Father, etc.)
The folk believe that people whose eyebrows meet become Marten at night and oppress the breasts of sleepers. They believe in the Werwolf, in the Wild Hunter, in gnomes and giants; and in the witches who ride on pitchforks, broomsticks, goats, and swine to their unhallowed tryst on the Brocken every Walpurgis Night. Just before her head was cut off a local witch once confessed that she had „shut up a thief in a gimlet-hole in the foul fiend's name, so that the fellow peeped like a swarm of mice“; and to this day the witches of Brunswick (Braunschweig) are keeping up their grand old traditions.
The devil is a familiar character, and one often hears:
Wenn't rant und de sunne schint, dann hat de duwel hochtit.
(When it rains and the sun shines, the devil is getting married.)
And there is a remarkably circumstantial legend of how the devil married his grandmother at midnight in a hall in Brunswick, leaving behind him a costly carpet and a ring worth two thousand ducats. People believe that he flies away with atheists, and that on February 15, 1781, his victim was no less a person than the great Lessing. For they always thought of their local poet and philosopher as an atheist, harder than steel, who was condemned to glow in the eternal fires. Indeed, there is a rhyme about this painful episode, which the children sing at play:
De duwel kam emal up eren
Un wull he gem en blanksmit weren.
Doch harr he weder tinn noch messing,
Drum nam he den professor Lessing.
The translation must be free:
Once on a time the devil came
And wished to try the blacksmith game.
But lack of metal kept him guessing
Until he took Professor Lessing.
Finally, lest it should be imagined that such beliefs and customs are no longer representative of modern Brunswick (Braunschweig), let us take an instance from the police records of 1897. At two o'clock on the morning of January 19, Gottlieb Kitzke, a servant, and Fritz Krodel, a coachman, were arrested in the Wolfenbüttler-Strasse because they answered the nightwatch evasively. It came out in the examination that they had been trying to conjure up his Satanic majesty. They had carried to a field outside the city a sack of firewood, a number of wax candles, a spirit-lamp, and a cornucopia of salt. They had lighted the fire, the candles and the lamp, had offered up the salt on the latter, and had prayed fervidly for an hour; but no devil! The wood burned up, the candles down; but still no devil. Loud recriminations on the way home led to their arrest. In Krodel's pocket was found a „Book of Spirits.“ The titlepage ran as follows:
The Seven-sealed Book of the Greatest Secrets:
Secret Art School of Magic Wonder-forces,
Angel-help for Defense and Protection at Direst Need.
The Book of Holy Salt,
The True Fiery Dragon.
There was a book-mark at the chapter on How to Conjure up Lucifer.
There are still other points of resemblance between the city and Tyll Eulenspiegel. Brunswick liked Tyll because he was no respecter of persons. Tyll liked Brunswick for the same reason. Indeed, it is not strange that the place should be so democratic, for it lies in that cradle of the Anglo-Saxon race between the Harz Mountains, the Elbe, and the Rhine and has obstinately preserved the old breed and the old speech. It has always been plebeian in spirit, and was one of the first Northern communities to fight for democracy— a fight prolonged in vain for four centuries. Because it is such an excellent type of a Low-German city, it is a shame that the late invasion of the High-German tongue should have „restored“ its mellow Saxon name of „Brunswyk“ into „Braunschweig.“
But its medieval democratic spirit has never been „restored“ away from those incomparable streets, and to this day fills many of the public buildings with its poetry. The Rathaus of the Old-Town was designed with a true feeling for municipal proportion so that it might not overpower its private neighbors; while the Gewandhaus was influenced even further by them, for it shows traces of the compactness and conservatism of timber construction.
Each of these, is a type of the municipal architecture of its period. The richness and interest of the Rathaus come wholly from a two-storied Gothic colonnade, filled with tracery and gargoyles and Saxon princes under delicate baldachins. It is a happy instance of that self-restraint, unusual in Germany, which has made poems of Brunswick's winding streets. In these the builders would allow no one house to lord it over the others, and here in the Rathaus the entire effect comes from a tenfold repetition of one theme.
The Gewandhaus, as it looks down the sweep of the Post-Strasse, seems to fuse in itself all the elements of the German Renaissance — the Italian's fondness for a classical play of proportion, his conservative adherence to certain medieval effects, and the reckless passion of the Low Countries for picturesque, unstructural ornament. But the building has a lightness and a hint of gaiety which remind one that Brunswick, lying just beyond the Westphalian border, is touched by the happy spirit of the Harz and of Thuringia. And one has the impulse to climb that lofty gable among the caryatids and allegorical statues, the volutes and obelisks and inscriptions, to search the horizon for the blunt profile of the Brocken.
These two structures stand as monuments of the city's wealth in the flourishing Hanseatic days when she controlled the main highway to the ports of Bremen and Hamburg and Lübeck. They symbolize as well the democratic ideal that preferred poverty to oppression. In 1293 the people, led by the gilds, began their fight against a tyrannous government. In consequence they were declared „aufrührerisch,“ or riotous, by the Hanseatic League, and were repeatedly placed under the commercial ban, which almost ruined the city's prosperity. But it took four centuries to break their spirit, and though the cause was finally lost, democracy is still plainly written upon many of their streets.
It is true that the name of Brunswick is in evil odor in the pages of American history. But we should not harbor resentment against her because, in the darkest period of her history, after the power of the people was finally broken, the worst of her rulers sold a few thousands of her sons to England to fight against us in company with the Hessians. The Brunswickers could not help themselves. They were suffering reaction from their long struggle against the same evils that had roused America to arms. Who knows whether, if the people had won their fight, they might not have been our allies instead of our foes?
Brunswick's most striking quality is the delightfully homelike atmosphere that seems to pervade it. No doubt the conservatism of a folk as rich as they in superstition made for loyalty to the family and the ancestral dwelling, and likewise the democratic spirit led each citizen to make his house his palace.
These humble builders stamped their work with their own personality as completely as though they were sculptors and each house a model in moist clay. And they are the personalities of family men. Several of the streets, like the Weber-Strasse, the Hagenbrücke, and Meinhardshof have stood virtually unchanged since the sixteenth century, and they seem fairly to exude domesticity.
On coming out suddenly into one of the many squares, if you have already caught the spirit of the place, your eyes seek first, not the great church or public building, but the row of old dwellings opposite, glowing with color, redolent of romance. In that nucleus of Brunswick, the Burg-Platz, for example, one is aware of something more significant than the castle and the cathedral. For these sumptuous chords are a little sharp to the city's real key-note, as one finds on catching a glimpse of the dwell- ings opposite and the crooked street into which they lead. This is the authentic key-note — a crooked street filled with half-timbered houses rich with carv- ings, their stories pushing out eagerly beyond one another as if anxious to mingle their gargoyles and saints above the happy life of the pavement; and, closing the enchanted vista, some noble building of the people, or some real native church, its traceried bell-house riding high between twin towers.
A deal of Brunswick's charm is due to its street plan. Many of the old cities, founded by pure Teutonic stock, in the south and west of Germany developed from a group of houses huddled together without rhyme or reason — an arrangement called „Haufendorf,“ or „Heap village.“ On the other hand, the Slavic cities of the east were laid out on a deadly rectilinear plan, as monotonous as Manhattan's sorry scheme of things.
In Brunswick these two influences complemented each other and produced a plan both of irregular, curving streets and of far vistas — a plan that surpasses the others as a design by Diirer surpasses a design by a cliff-dweller or by Euclid. And Brunswick has known better than most cities how to keep her scheme pure of modern improvements.
No other German city has preserved so many of its Gothic houses. The earlier ones often bear friezes in which a characteristic step-like design frames low reliefs. The later Gothic retaliates on the church bell-houses, which are, in a sense, only transfigured dwellings, by borrowing their ecclesiastical tracery. But the most fascinating friezes are the allegorical, religious, and grotesque reliefs supported by carven beam-ends and consoles that seem to run the gamut of piety and humor. A scene at Stecher-Strasse 10 hastens naively from Isaac to the Resurrection with a smile and a touch of real religious feeling. But the Brunswicker seems most at home in carvings that express his whimsical, mischief-loving nature, as in the frieze of Neue-Strasse 9, a mélange of monkeys, clowns, storks, mermen, and aggressive dwarfs.
Animal symbolism lies close to his heart and is often inimitable, as at Gordelinger-Strasse 38, where a fox is making away with a goose and an ass is performing solemnly on the bagpipes. There is a favorite kind of grotesque called Luderzielien, or „Bummers' Tug of War,“ depicting an old game in which two men wrestle back to back with a rope passed over their shoulders. As for the gargoyle who pulls wide the corners of his mouth like a bad boy, he is found everywhere, even interrupting the decent progression of a row of wooden saints. This is the sort of carven fun that is often seen on old town halls, but nowhere else is it found in such profusion on German homes as here.
In the transition style the old „step“ ornament developed into the fan-shaped rosette, which often radiates from some grotesque head.
„She has the form of the rising sun,“ exclaims a sentimental German writer. „She is the rising sun of the Renaissance!“
This design evolved into the egg-like ornament called Ship's Keel, and at length, reluctantly, into the Renaissance. But such is the conservatism of private timber architecture that the reawakening was delayed by half a century, and even then the good burghers held fast to many Gothic motifs.
The Hofbräuhaus is a good type of this period. But it has few rivals, for Renaissance energy seems to have focused here largely on portals. Those at Reichen-Strasse 32 and Südklint 15 are almost Italian in their severity and poise. The most picturesque of all is opposite the north transept of St. Martin's, with its human and leonine caryatids and its elaborately costumed halberdiers. Another fine portal surprises the prowler in a narrow lane back of the Brüdern Kirche, and another leads from the Backerklint to the place where they still make one of the oldest beverages in German lands, the famous Mumme beer — a dusky syrup like the most infamous cough mixture that ever darkened my childish interior.
Brunswick has little noteworthy private architecture built later than the Renaissance except the amusingly exaggerated portal of Bank-Platz 1 and the consummate baroque portal and oriel at the head of that jewel among streets, the Reichen-Strasse.
Many of the older dwellings have an architectural feature as unique as are Danzig's Beischläge, — one that adds its element of mystery and romance. The Kemnaten are stone rooms built massively into the center of the half-timbered houses. No one knows their function. Were they fireproof vaults in the inflammable times of thatched roofs? Or were they the private strongholds of the days when every man's hand was against his neighbor and his house was literally his castle ?
Among the chief fascinations of Brunswick are the old Höfe, or courts. They are not so narrow or so teeming with life as in Hamburg, nor so opulent in color and effects of vista as in Lübeck; but they are richer architecturally, and in their inimitable inscriptions that show at once the dry wit and the piety of the North German, as in the following:
Allen die mich kennen
den gebe Gott wass sie mir gönnen.
(God make my friends all free
Of what they wish for me.)
Court-hunting offers all the excitement of searching for hidden treasure; for the most medieval court may be masked by the most modern facade. The only way is to enter boldly at every open portal, and presently you find yourself plunging through a door of the twentieth century straight into the fifteenth.
There the low-class artisan — the „Little Citizen“ as he is called — sits before his house cobbling as in the days of Hans Sachs, or blows at a quaint forge the flare of which picks out Rembrandtesque high hghts amid the dusk of the overhanging stories — stories quite unrestored and full of dim carvings and inscriptions. It was a memorable surprise to stumble upon the court at Schützen-Strasse 34 and find this motto:
Wer wil haben das im geling
der sehe selbst wol zu seinem Ding.
a sentiment that might be translated:
Who loves Fortune and would woo her
Let him tend in person to her.
There was a long inscription running along an entire side of this court. So time-worn and cobwebby was it that I had to clamber upon a rickety wain to decipher it; and with the tail of my eye I could see a group of eager young Brunswickers trying to muster courage enough to upset me. At length I made it out:
Dorch Gottes Segen
und sine Macht
Habe ich das Gebew
(Through God's own might
This building as
You see I 've done.)
The most elaborate of the courts is entered through an interesting portal in the Jacob-Strasse. The richly carved beam-ends are supported on columns with curious triple capitals and this „Low“ variant of a common inscription:
Wer Got vortruwet
Der hat wol gebuwet,
which might be Englished:
The man whose thoughts in God repose
Has builded better than he knows
There is no discordant note in these Brunswick courts. Everything seems there by right divine. At number 2 in the Wenden-Strasse (the ancient Via Slavorum) a heap of poles leans by a fine, late- Gothic, church-like window as naturally as though it were a necessary buttress. The court of Reichen- Strasse 32 has even its dovecote embellished with Empire medallions. And in the long garden-court of number 21, where numerous „Little Citizens“ are packed in together — not without friction — this motto is conspicuous:
Wenn Hass und Neid brändte wie Feuer
So were das Holtz lange nicht so teuer,
If hate and envy burned like fuel
The cost of wood would be less cruel.
Some of the squares are hardly less perfect in their way than the best of the courts. The little Platz, „Am Nickelnkulk,“ for instance, where one of Brunswick's numerous iron serpents pokes his head out of the under-world and looks about in surprise at the picturesque cottages by the tiny stream. This is the home of legend. For „Nickelnkulk“ is corrupted from „Nickerkulk,“ meaning a water-hole inhabited by a divinity called „Nicker,“ a sort of nix or water-sprite. This personage lived for centuries in his hole by the stream, and fifty years ago was still celebrated in a children's game. One child lurked in a ditch and tried to catch the others, who jumped over it singing, in the lowest of German:
Ik sitt in dinen locke:
Fange mik doch.
(Nix of the elder-bush,
I squat in your den:
Catch me, then.)
It has the genuine smack of the soil, this Low-German language, so much older and so much more akin to the English than the High German. A Plattdeutsch poet has written some sonorous lines in its honor:
Uns' Sprak is as uns' Heiden,
ursprüngelk noch an free.
Uns' Sprak is deep un mächtig
un prächtig as de See.
Anything so near our language almost translates itself:
Our speech is like our heath-land,
Primordial and free.
Our speech is deep and mighty
And splendid as the sea.
In Brunswick the lower classes speak „Platt“ almost exclusively, and, in picking it up, English is almost as potent a help as German.
There is the little Ruhfäutchen-Platz in the heart of town, dreaming over its water-filled fragment of the old castle-moat; the Kohl Markt, with its fine fountain, its view of the Gewandhaus, and its three Renaissance houses. Sun, Moon, and Star. (Although „Star“ recently suffered total eclipse, its memory still twinkles on.)
Then there is the Altstadt Markt, especially „when a great illumination surprises a festal night,“ and the Gothic fountain, transformed into rainbow mist, sends a gentle glow playing over the old houses on the southern side, and the band makes soft music behind the tongues of flame outlining the arches of the Rathaus colonnade. Then the square is filled with gaily dressed, fun-loving folk who seem held within bounds only by the austere spires of St. Martin's above them.
Because Brunswick has preserved inviolate so many of its intimate old streets and the old stock in them, and because the stranger feels at once that this is a city of families, it is peculiarly fitting that it should possess the one work of art that expresses most completely the poetry of family life. In revisiting the picture-gallery it is natural for the lover of Brunswick to hasten past even the pure spirituality and mysticism of Rembrandt's „Noli Me Tangere,“ the royal coloring of his armed warrior, and the shimmering Vermeer interior, until he comes to the hall which contains the goal of his pilgrimage. If he is wise, he will look first at the remarkable Lievensz and at Steen's uproarious wedding-scene, because everything else pales after one glance at the Rembrandt.
To me it is one of the grandest of all exhibitions of sheer creative power. For there is nothing unusual in the subject, no dramatic or pathetic situation, no scene of inherent poetic inspiration, no religious afflatus. It is a mere family of every-day people, caught amid their prosaic surroundings, and irradiated, transfigured by the fire of the master's genius. I know of no one else who has ever made more of such unpromising material. The Germans call the picture a Farben-Rausch, and we can only call it an ecstasy in color. The figures, in a delicious trance, seem in possession of the ultimate secret, and the eldest child brings toward the mother a basket of flowers as though moving through some precious spiritual rite. One returns repeatedly to worship before this painting as before a shrine and to realize why its spell could not be as potent elsewhere as in this city of homes.
Just as the Rathaus and the Gewandhaus are subsidiary to the dwellings of Brunswick, so are the other noteworthy buildings: all but two; for the aris- tocratic castle and cathedral are exceptions. But it must be remembered that these are both memorials of the maker of Brunswick's fortunes and her greatest ruler, Henry the Lion, whose death ended the days when the Brunswickers were content to be governed by any one man.
In the ninth century. Burg Dankwarderode was built by the brother of that Bruno who founded Brunswick, calling it Brunonis Vicus. Three hundred years later it was sumptuously rebuilt by Henry the Lion; but during the centuries of democratic agitation that followed it was ruined, over-crusted, and forgotten. Finally, in recent days, some of Henry's noble arches and capitals were discovered and made the basis of the present restoration, which is a masterpiece of its kind, a worthy mate of the Marienburg in East Prussia. Henry's famous bronze lion in the little Burg-Platz outside, which has guarded his name for the last seven hundred years, snarls ferociously at you when you dare to wonder why the cathedral exterior is so unassuming. Indeed, the great burgher churches were all built on this general scheme, with a plain, massive western front, a lofty bell-house riding high between two towers, and a long, low nave, like a giant dachshund at the heels of his master.
On entering the cathedral you see that the magnificence was all saved for the interior as a setting for Henry's famous Gothic tomb before the altar. The architecture runs a brilliant scale from early Romanesque to the fantastic, spiral-ribbed piers of the late- English Gothic.
The place is filled with treasures. On the walls is a fascinating cycle of Romanesque frescos, the principal works of their kind on the plain of North Germany. There is a trinity of sculptures, in the apse, worthy of the lion in the square outside: a twelfth- century altar of bronze and marble, an old brazen replica of the Seven Golden Candlesticks at Jerusalem, and, above all, a wooden crucifix of the tenth century, to which one returns again and again with ever new joy and reverence. It is a light out of the grossly Dark Ages. The face, hands, and feet are long and slim, the body is robed, and the folds are channeled as formally as Assyrian hair. Yet the figure has about it something benignant and royal, at once fraternal and paternal. A German authority named Doring has made the curious suggestion that this is not a statue of Our Lord, but of St. Era, the patroness of the crypt, who, as a foil to unpleasant attentions, was given a beard in answer to prayer. But I prefer not to associate this Christian Ariadne with my favorite Brunswick statue.
There is no such splendor inside the other churches. They breathe, on the contrary, the spirit of men whose tastes were, first of all, democratic and domestic. They are eloquent of the solidarity that should exist between the religious life and the secular.
In this town the street is no mere frame, as in so many other picturesque German cities, for an important building at its end; it is the major part of the picture, with the great tower or chiseled façade as a background. St. Catherine's and St. Andrew's are splendid foils for the ways that surround them. St. Martin's, indeed, is almost too subservient, for it faces directly down none of the fascinating streets of the quarter. The best it can do is to enliven the Altstadt Markt, with its chain of traceried gables and its rich choir, where a statue of Luther usurps the place of a Romish predecessor.
The other churches, however, atone for St. Martin's unfortunate position. It is a joy to prowl through the narrow Steelier-Strasse and come out suddenly on the broad expanse of the Hagen Markt, where, beyond the misty waters of Henry the Lion's fountain, rises the facade of St. Catherine's, tall and slim and queenly, like some fair daughter of the people. It expresses more nearly than any other local building the proud independence of the Brunswickers, their joy and pride in the beauty they were creating, and their feeling for the composition of the city.
St. Catherine's is a typical Brunswick church. You encircle it to enjoy the gable-fields and to see, from many angles, how gracefully the western front detaches itself from the nave. The best view comes last. Inevitably you retire to the Hagenbrücke, backing up the crowded little street. And the people courteously make way for any one who is appreciating how the high, corbeled stories of their houses close in on each side of the distant façade, the opulent red of the gable-tiles gradually moving in to bring out the green patina of the lesser tower and the creamy delicacy of the window tracery. You zigzag from curb to curb, comparing the scores of rival effects, and the cHmax comes on the corner of the Reichen- Strasse. These Gothic houses, teeming with twentieth-century humanity, are brought out by that Gothic house of the God of all centuries, beyond. They seem enriched and spiritualized by its very presence, much as the ideal church enriches and spiritualizes the lives of its children. That the relation of the infinite to the finite could be so embodied in a double row of worm-eaten houses leading crookedly from a church, I had never realized until the hour when I first stood in the Hagenbrücke.
St. Andrew's has less of the gracious sweetness of St. Catherine's and more of the monumentality of the cathedral. But it heightens the beauty and nobility of the surrounding streets as potently as its sister church, if in a more virile way. And it has a wider range of effects.
The view down the Weber- Strasse is a worthy companion to that down the Hagenbrücke, only the houses are plainer, and the church more obscured by them. But St. Andrew's has in its repertory other pieces almost as inspired as this.
You give yourself up to the curvetings of the capricious little Meinhardshof, where the overhanging façades, leaning on their saint and sinner corbels, let only a narrow ribbon of sunshine slip between them; where the tiles run up suddenly into incorrectly made dunce-caps or break out into dormers or little eyelike windows bulging with surprise — tiles that cast a ruddy reflection upon tlie grotesque carvings of the opposite house-front, from which the glow rebounds across the cobbles and plays about a portal of blackness leading into some, indescribable court full of the mysterious and the medieval.
At length, if you can tear yourself away at all, you round another bend and see, beyond a Gothic house more crooked, if possible than the street itself, the southern tower of St. Andrew's, the tallest and most impressive of Brunswick's many, shooting up from the picturesque Alte Waage that nestles at its base, looking more like a home than a public building.
Amid such intimate enjoyment of the humbler houses of the people, to come suddenly upon this stately tower harjnonizing so completely with them was to find a new point of view. Brunswick came to mean the city of homes above all, and this tower, seen from here or down the steps from the Promenade to the Woll-Markt, never failed to sound this charming note of domesticity.
The gables of St. Andrew's are the most interesting in Brunswick, and its water-spouting gargoyles the most enthusiastic. Only too often I have seen them discharging their liquid task with the most fluent joy, a condition alone attainable by complete fitness for one's vocation. And there is one, a lovable fellow, a cousin of those on the houses, pulling wide the corners of his mouth as though performing a duty. The huge Gothic groups on the southern gable-fields representing the „Flight into Egypt“ and the „Slaughter of the Innocents“ are so delicious in their naivete and yet so touching that one chuckles as one looks at them through moist eyes. One of the most affecting and amusing of the reliefs shows Christ sitting with a group of cripples; for the church is supposed to have been founded by a group of wealthy cripples who lived in the Kröppel-Strasse adjoining. The learned Döring, however, contends that this is Christ in the Temple disputing with the doctors, whose spiritual infirmities are physically portrayed.
The bell-house of St. Andrew's, though simpler than that of St. Catherine's or that of the cathedral, is almost as effective. There is a threefold beauty in the conception of these lofty gables of stone lacework. Tenderly they sound the city's dominant domestic theme, and embody the thought that the German art of music should have a separate architectonic expression. For the burghers conceived that the music of their chimes should be no mere adjunct to the steeple, the function of which is not to contain bells, but to direct the eye of the soul toward heaven. They also sound a note distinctly human, for they break the too abrupt idealism of the tower's leap from cobbles to sky by interjecting, half-way up, something that means to the Teuton the most spiritual joy short of religious ecstasy, and yet a joy that he may feel as keenly in a seance with his violin, beneath the homely red tiles yonder, as when the organ reverberates through the nave on Sunday morning.
These medieval bell-houses were prophetic as well; for Brunswick was to have a musical history peculiarly honorable, as is shown to-day by the monuments to its two citizens, Abt and Spohr.
Sometimes it is pleasant to punctuate this Old- World romance with a walk around the charming promenades or among the new villas beyond, or to go farther, to the Park of Richmond, the estate of the Duke of Cumberland, rightful heir to the province. But one always returns with new zest to the narrow, winding streets, full of the color and spirit of the Middle Ages, where the houses lean together across the ways as if to embrace one another.
Not long ago an enthusiast was asked which German city he loved best. It proved a difficult problem. None of the large ones, certainly. They were too huge and many-sided. It would be like adoring a score of wives at the same time. Besides, unlike wives, great cities are too impersonal. On the other hand, little Rothenburg was for him almost too full of the romantic elements to be real. The people seemed like actors on a stage. He found himself constantly watching for the spot-light, straining his ears for the prompter, and fearing lest the curtain be abruptly rung down. Nuremberg's alloy of modern buildings and the modern spirit put it out of the question. Neither were the dwellings of Danzig friendly enough, nor its half-Slavic atmosphere. Strassburg he cherished for its cathedral, but disliked for its people. In spite of all their romance and beauty, Regensburg and Bautzen were too somber, Augsburg too formal. Cologne he would almost have chosen but for its discordant foreign note, its dirt, and its beggars. The houses of Lübeck were hardly beautiful enough; those of Hildesheim, on the other hand, were almost too self-conscious and brilliant and precious. One cannot hold a treasure-casket in warm, human affection.
And so, although he prefers the gemütlich southern temperament to the northern, yet, all in all, he felt he must choose Brunswick. For the town of Tyll Eulenspiegel is almost unspoiled by the modern note; its architecture is the spontaneous expression of natures uniting Thuringian gaiety, sweetness, and taste with Northern depth and sincerity. It is a hearty, wholesome, true kind of romance that Brunswick exhales. And perhaps the democracy of the people, perhaps their humor, is what tipped the beam, and made him love more than any other in Germany the town that is summed up by the view of St. Catherine's down the Hagenbrücke and by the little old Backerklint where sits Tyll Eulenspiegel, his monkeys' heads rubbed bright by the loving hands of children.
Brunswick — The Old-Town Market. Painted by Gertrude Wurmb.
Brunswick — Old Houses in the Reichen-Strasse. Painted by Gertrude Wurmb.
Brunswick — An Old Courtyard in Brunswick. Painted by Gertrude Wurmb.
Brunswick — Church of St. Catherine and Henry the Lions Fountain in the Hagen Markt. Painted by Gertrude Wurmb.
Brunswick — The Alte Waage, looking toward St. Andrews. Painted by Gertrude Wurmb.
Brunswick — The front of St. Andrews, as seen from the Weber-Strasse. Painted by Gertrude Wurmb.alle Kapitel sehen